Rep. Eddie Johnson has named Ayuj Verma and Sam Hooper from School for the Talented and Gifted as the winners of the 2021 Congressional App Challenge in Texas’s 30th District.
When asked what inspired the creation of relearn, the students said, “We were inspired to make this app after seeing learning loss taking over classrooms in Dallas ISD. Sam and I had just gone through a year of virtual learning, but we were grateful to have amazing teachers and reliable internet connection to be able to learn from home. However, not every family had these opportunities, whether it was having a stable school environment or the ability to learn from home, so we wanted to alleviate some of the learning loss by creating this app. The COVID-19 pandemic hit all subjects hard, but it especially caused math education to spiral downwards because math is best taught in front of students, especially if they are below 9th grade. This can be seen in the Dallas Morning News article we mention in the video (https://bit.ly/3vVWgnG), which highlights that the number of students who failed the math STAAR in 2021 test increased by at least double digits for grades 3 to 8 compared to 2019. The biggest increase was 29% in 7th grade where a whopping 71% of students failed the math STAAR test.
We also realized that teachers often struggled to find problem sets both in normal and pandemic years, so making an app that generates random problem sets allows for teachers to spend their time directly helping their students rather than scouring the internet for worksheets. There isn’t an app that quite fits our niche of creating randomly generated problem sets where you can choose and customize the topics. For example, we really liked Quizlet, a flashcard app that can help you memorize anything from vocabulary for English class to the periodic table of elements in Chemistry class, but it isn’t as viable in math because it helps you memorize ideas rather than practice concepts. We also love Khan Academy, which has thousands of videos ranging anywhere from basic addition to complex Calculus, but once again, it only helps you learn topics but not physically practice them. Unlike other subjects, math is 30% knowing the concepts and 70% practicing and applying them, the latter of which we wanted to focus on because that is what matters in a classroom environment.
Lastly, we wanted something in it for ourselves. Both being veteran members of our school’s Math Club and competing in UIL Number Sense, a mental math contest, at the regional level, we wanted to make a practice place for the club.”
The 2021 Congressional App Challenge yielded 2,101 fully functioning apps. After eighteen months of disruptions to educational cadences for students everywhere, the Congressional App Challenge came roaring back with 7,174 students registering for this year’s competition. All told, 340 Members of Congress hosted Congressional App Challenges in their districts across 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Washington, D.C.
The Congressional App Challenge is an official initiative of the U.S. House of Representatives, where Members of Congress host contests in their districts for middle school and high school students, encouraging them to learn to code and inspiring them to pursue careers in computer science. Each participating Member of Congress selects a winning app from their district, and each winning team is invited to showcase their winning app to Congress during our annual #HouseOfCode festival. The program is a public-private partnership made possible through funding from Omidyar Network, AWS, theCoderSchool, Facebook, Replit, Accenture, and others.
The 2022 Congressional App Challenge will launch in June of 2022, and eligible students can pre-register for the competition now.